Category Archives: cookbook

Cookbook Review: The Canning Kitchen

I am slightly obsessed with cookbooks. I could spend hours inside Chapters browsing through the latest releases and building a mental cookbook wishlist. Okay, I actually do that all the time. I love the photos, the smooth feel of their covers, and the promise of delicious food inside.

But yet, I could probably count on two hands the number of times per year I actually make a recipe from one of my cookbooks.

I partially blame that on Pinterest, but also it’s because cookbook recipes can sometimes seem unachievable. They call for too many ingredients, take too many steps, and overall just don’t inspire confidence in me that I can make the recipe.

The Canning Kitchen Cookbook Review

So when I received a copy of Amy Bronee‘s first cookbook The Canning Kitchen I was surprised to discover the recipes seemed surprisingly approachable, And this is coming from someone who has canned twice in her lifetime before – so I’m far from an experienced canner.

So approachable, in fact, that I decided to make her peach jam on a Thursday morning before work with a tight time frame, without any proper canning equipment, and with a sick boyfriend moaning on the couch. I don’t know what came over me, but I felt confident I could do it anyways.

The Canning Kitchen

And things went absolutely smoothly! Just kidding, I was 2 hours late for work, my makeshift aluminum foil “rack” fell apart on me, I flooded my stove with water (note: you really cannot use a standard soup pot as a canner), the jam wouldn’t thicken (my fault: I didn’t have a wide enough pot for evaporation to occur), and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. But I have flexible work hours anyways, the water got mopped up, I added chia seeds to the jam to help thicken it up, and all was good in the end because I have 6 jars of peach jam that I made entirely by myself – I’m like one proud mama over here!

The Canning Kitchen Review

And I can honestly say I would not have done this if it weren’t for The Canning Kitchen. Canning has always intimidated me with all the seemingly complicated steps and meticulous attention to small details. And also the possibility of royally screwing up and creating a batch of jam that gets infested with bacteria and kills my whole family. Okay, perhaps a tad dramatic.

But for all you canning scaredy cats out there like me, fear no more. If The Canning Kitchen can talk a klutz like me through canning, there’s no one it can’t help. But a word of advice: listen to Amy when she tells you what equipment you need. She knows what she’s talking about.

The Canning Kitchen Review

Want to see more of what this cookbook has to offer? Check out the posts of some other great Canadian bloggers to read about their experiences making recipes from The Canning Kitchen:

Blueberry Sauce via The Brunette Baker
Bread & Butter Pickles via Planet Byn
Crunchy Dill Pickles via She Eats
Triple Red Pickles via The Tasty Gardener
Beer Hive Grainy Mustard via Sweet Twist of Blogging
Lemon Raspberry Jamalade via My Daily Randomness
Blueberry Orange Marmalade via The Messy Baker
Peach Chutney with Garam Masala via Libby Roach
Tomato Red Onion Relish via Devour & Conquer

As a part of this blog hop, we are also hosting a GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of The Canning Kitchen plus a $100 gift certificate to Canadian Tire to get you stocked up on all your canning needs! You can enter using the form below between August 26th and September 2nd, 2015. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents of legal age only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 

Big thank you to Penguin Random House for the complimentary copy of The Canning Kitchen for the purpose of this review! All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Cookbook review: Refresh

If you live in Toronto you probably either a) have already eaten at Fresh restaurant and love it, or b) always hear your plant eating friends raving about their latest meal at Fresh. It’s the vegan restaurant to go to in Toronto. I’ve been there once before and didn’t love my dish, but I hear there are much better ones on the menu. I hope to go their again, but in the meantime I’m content with just cooking some of its dishes from its Refresh cookbook.

Today I’ve chosen to review it for the next post in my cookbook review series:

Refresh cookbook review

Refresh is a vegan cookbook, and it’s centered around whole grains, vegetables, sprouts, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy protein. I’d say it’s Asian-inspired with lots of rice bowls and noodle recipes, but it also has salads, brunch foods, smoothies, and more. It’s my go-to cookbook when I need a healthy boost!

Things I like about the Refresh cookbook

  • Its recipes are directly from the restaurant’s menu, so you can exactly replicate them!
  • It’s a great resource for sauce, dressing, and marinade recipes
  • The ingredients are all fairly easy to find in most grocery stores

Things I don’t like about the Refresh cookbook

  • The recipes can be very time consuming to make, since there are often multiple marinades/sauces involved in one recipe
  • Some of the recipes have large yields, so I find myself having to half or even quarter the recipes when I make them

Recipes I’ve tried from Refresh

1. Green goddess bowl: Brown rice / steamed greens / nori / marinated tofu / lemon tahini sauce

This is my favourite dish from the cookbook – the flavours are amazing! It takes a while to make though, since you have to make a marinade for the tofu, a tamari dressing for the steamed greens, and the lemon tahini sauce.

Refresh cookbook review

2. Mega life salad: Mixed greens / shredded carrots and beets / sprouts / mixed nuts and seeds / marinated tofu

This is a such a light, fresh dish and I love the shredded veggies in it! I used the cookbook’s green dressing for it, which paired nicely with the flavours.

Refresh cookbook review

3. California salad: Mixed greens / pesto white beans / cherry tomatoes / hearts of palm / avocado

This salad was good, but it didn’t blow me away. I love their idea to mix white beans with pesto for some added flavour though.

Refresh California salad

4. Fresh granola: Rolled oats / nuts and seeds / dried fruit

If you’re looking for a granola that is very healthy and low in sugar, this is it. It’s only sweetened with apple juice and the tiniest bit of maple syrup, so it’s not very sweet at all. I appreciate the healthiness of this recipe, but I have to admit I found this granola pretty bland and won’t be making it again.

Refresh granola

5. Dragon rice bowl: Brown rice / grilled zucchini and tomato / marinated tofu / miso gravy

I think this was my least favourite of the recipes I tried. The grilled tomato was messy, the miso gravy was only okay, and the flavours weren’t that great together. I won’t replicate this dish again, but I might play around with the miso gravy to come up with a better flavour.

Refresh dragon rice bowl

There are still a ton of other recipes from this book that I want to try, like their famous Buddha rice bowl with a peanut sauce (I would sub in sunflower seed butter), split pea soup, and their house made veggie burger. Stay tuned for my reviews of these recipes on Instagram once I try them out!

Looking for more cookbook review posts? Make sure to check these out:

The Oh She Glows Cookbook
Clean Food
Fresh Food Fast
Veganomicon

Locals – have you ever been to Fresh? Non locals – have you ever been to a similar restaurant?

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Cookbook review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook

This post is a part of my cookbook review series. Previous posts include:
Veganomicon
Fresh Food Fast
Clean Food

About four and a half years ago, I started reading the blog Oh She Glows. It was at a time in my life when I needed guidance, and Angela’s blog turned out to be exactly the inspiration I needed. Full of stories about her journey to finding self happiness, she motivated me to do the same while also trying out her nourishing vegan recipes along the way.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Fast forward to now and she’s finally released the Oh She Glows cookbook – which I pre-ordered and then jumped with excitement when it arrived. I’ve been cooking from it like a madwoman, and I have to say, everything I’ve made has been fantastic! But we’ll get to that in a second. First I want to mention some other features of the book.

Things I like about the cookbook:

  • Stunning photography! I swear, even if I didn’t already read her blog, this book definitely would have caught my eye at the bookstore because of the gorgeous food pictures.
  • It’s divided by recipe type with mini table of contents for each recipe section. It’s very organized and easy to navigate!
  • Her recipes are always suitable for multiple dietary needs and preferences (gluten free, nut free, vegan, soy free, grain free, etc). And when a recipe isn’t suitable, she often makes suggestions for how to adapt it.

Things I don’t like about the cookbook:

  • I may be hesitant to make some of the entree recipes for my unadventurous, meat-loving, vegetable-fearing friends and family. I know I could win them over with the desserts though!

Recipes I’ve tried from the cookbook:

1. Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Brownies - Oh She Glows Cookbook

So far this is my #1 favourite recipe from the book. They are seriously the fudgiest, richest “healthy” brownies I’ve ever made – you can’t even tell they are vegan and gluten free!

2. Protein Power Goddess Bowl

Protein Power Goddess Bowl - Oh She Glows Cookbook

With chewy wheat berries, mild lentils, nutrient packed kale, and a sauce with tahini, lemon, and garlic, how could you go wrong? This is such a flavourful salad that’s perfect to make ahead for weekday lunches. And the flavours get even better as it sits in the fridge for a day or two!

3. Glo Bars

Glo Bars - Oh She Glows Cookbook

Angela used to make these and sell them at a local farmers’ market that’s just 20 minutes away from me, but I could never buy them because of the nut butter in them. So I was ecstatic to see a recipe for them in the cookbook so that I could finally make them myself. All I did was sub soy nut butter for the peanut butter to make them nut free, and the result was delicious: healthier, tastier, and way cheaper than any packaged granola bar I’ve ever bought.

4. Empowered Noodle Bowl with Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

Empowered Noodle Bowl - Oh She Glows Cookbook

Lots of great flavours in this dish! Next time I might make the dressing a bit thicker by omitting the tablespoon of water, but that’s just personal preference. She also gives the recipe for a peanut sauce (I would make it with sunflower seed butter) that I’m sure would taste fantastic with these noodles too.

5. Marinated balsamic, maple, and garlic tempeh

Marinated balsamic, maple, and garlic tempeh - Oh She Glows Cookbook

This totally stunk up my kitchen, but it was worth it – this tempeh is amazing! For all you tempeh skeptics, this is a great recipe to try that really masks the strong taste of tempeh that some people have a hard time getting used to.

6. African peanut soup

African peanut soup - Oh She Glows Cookbook

I had to replace the peanut butter with sunflower seed butter because of my allergy, but it still tasted great. Nut/seed butter in soup sounds weird, but it really works! It also makes it a lot more filling than your average soup because of all the healthy fats.

To wrap this up – the gist of what I’m saying is if you’re vegan, gluten free, have dietary restrictions, or just enjoy healthy cooking, I highly recommend this book. And heck, even if you’re none of these things, you might surprise yourself by how much you will enjoy these recipes!

What’s your favourite recipe from Oh She Glows’ blog or cookbook?

What blog has had the most influence on you?

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